Extreme weather events a reminder to prepare for blackouts

Australians are being reminded to prepare for unexpected power outages this summer due to extreme weather events.

Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and the Australian Energy Council (AEC) noted how the sector can be placed under pressure as the temperature heats up. This included any impact from the La Niña weather pattern currently affecting eastern and northern Australia.

A La Niña weather pattern usually indicates a cooler and wetter season for a certain area, reducing the presence of extreme heat. However, it also opens the door to flash flooding, strong winds and potentially cyclones.

Energy distribution networks could see potential disruptions this season as a result of these weather events, ENA CEO Andrew Dillon explained.

“Extreme weather events make power outages more likely and in cases where there is very high electricity demand, the Australian Energy Market Operator may also order rolling black outs (called load shedding) to ensure the security of the grid,” he said.

“We understand how inconvenient outages are and networks do everything they can to prepare for extreme weather and to respond when it causes disruptions. Power is restored as quickly as possible, with priority given to vulnerable customers and people on life support.”

Load shedding is when certain areas of the grid, such as a select few suburbs, will have their power supply switched off to help minimise electricity demand. These events usually last until additional supply can be provided or demand reduces (typically in the evening).

Electricity demand is often at its peak during the summer time, as appliances such as air conditioners and fans output large amounts of power to cool down homes and businesses.

According to a new report from the AEC and ENA, electricity demand is even higher from mid-January as schools and businesses typically recommence around this time.

Electricity generators are maintained throughout the year to aid with peak demands in summer time. However, high temperatures or an extended heatwave can still impact key infrastructure, AEC CEO, Sarah McNamara shared.

“Ongoing maintenance takes place throughout the year to keep the grid and generators in good working order before summer,” she said.

During a heatwave, electricity demand typically increases around the third and fourth day as the power output from air conditioners increases due to the accumulation of heat within buildings and dwellings.

Compare Energy Plans

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

How to prepare for a power outage

It’s important to stay vigilant and prepared during storm season in Australia. The last thing anyone one wants on a stinkin’ hot day is to be left unprepared when the power goes out. So, here’s a few things you can do now to ensure you’re ready for your next blackout:

  1. Collate a list of emergency numbers you may need in the event of a power outage. This could include your power provider, local SES and energy distributor. You may also find it useful to follow your distributor on social media as they may post about any upcoming outages.
  2. Keep an emergency kit stocked and up to date in your home. Some things to include in this kit could be non-perishable food items, bottled water, first aid kit, torches, candles, spare batteries and a portable radio.
  3. Ensure all your electrical outlets are safe to use and implement surge protected power boards within the home, where possible.

Should you find yourself without power, your best contact is going to be your energy distributor. Most distributors will have a power outage map available on its website for you to locate which areas have been affected and how long it should take until energy is restored.

And remember, if someone is in physical danger or you’re exposed to fallen powerlines, contact emergency services immediately.


Image credit: Menno van der Haven/Shutterstock.com

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